RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Excerpt: "Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long is the target of an ongoing Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation into whether he misused government vehicles during his commutes to North Carolina from Washington."

The actions by Brock Long, the U.S. government's lead disaster official as the country braces for Hurricane Florence, have been called into question by the inspector general over whether taxpayers have inappropriately footed the bill for his travel. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The actions by Brock Long, the U.S. government's lead disaster official as the country braces for Hurricane Florence, have been called into question by the inspector general over whether taxpayers have inappropriately footed the bill for his travel. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


Trump's FEMA Administrator Under Investigation Over Use of Official Cars

By Daniel Lippman and Eliana Johnson, Politico

13 September 18


The lead disaster official for Hurricane Florence recently clashed with his boss, Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, over travel home to North Carolina.

ederal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long is the target of an ongoing Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation into whether he misused government vehicles during his commutes to North Carolina from Washington, according to three people familiar with the matter, including current and former administration officials.

The actions by Long, the U.S. government’s lead disaster official as the country braces for Hurricane Florence, have been called into question by the inspector general over whether taxpayers have inappropriately footed the bill for his travel, an issue that has tripped up a number of current and former top Trump administration officials.

Long’s travel habits triggered a clash between him and his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in recent weeks, clouding their relationship just as senior aides close to President Donald Trump prepared for hurricane season — a task that’s attracted extra scrutiny in the wake of the disaster that befell Puerto Rico in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Maria.

The IG is investigating whether Long misused government resources and personnel on trips back home to Hickory, North Carolina, on the weekends, said two of the officials. The IG’s interest was drawn after one of the vehicles — a black Suburban — was involved in an accident, according to one of the officials.

Long’s routine absences from the office due to frequent six-hour drives between North Carolina and Washington also drew Nielsen’s attention, this person said. Nielsen had raised the issue of Long’s in-office schedule with him in recent months, this person added.

At a meeting in late August, Nielsen confronted Long about his travel, though people familiar with the meeting gave conflicting accounts about whether she took the step of asking him to step down over the issue.

One of the officials said Nielsen asked Long to consider resigning, though he declined to do so and remains in his role. The program to support the FEMA administrator “was never intended for this purpose,” said the official.

Long did not respond to requests for comment from POLITICO but addressed the IG investigation at a FEMA briefing on Thursday morning, saying his office was working closely with the inspector general’s office “to make improvements to make sure we are running programs and policies according to regulation.”

“Bottom line is, we’ll continue to fully cooperate with any investigation that goes on and own up to any mistakes and push forward and keep going,” Long said.

“I would never intentionally run a program incorrectly,“ he added. “Doing something unethical is not part of my DNA, and it is not part of my track record in my whole entire career. We will work with the OIG.”

Jessica Nalepa, FEMA’s director of external affairs, said questions about specific IG investigations should be directed to DHS’ IG office and that FEMA fully cooperates with all investigations conducted by the IG. The DHS IG’s office and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

“All questions about any potential investigation by the Office of the Inspector General should be directed to the IG. At this time, we are fully focused on preparing for, responding to, and recovering from Hurricane Florence and the storms in the Pacific,” said DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton. “The secretary is confident in the leadership at FEMA and their proven disaster management ability.”

Long started using a staff driver to get him home to North Carolina at the beginning of his tenure at FEMA last year. On the weekends Long spent in North Carolina, aides were put up in a hotel at taxpayer expense, according to one of the current officials.

DHS employees must be authorized to access government vehicles for personal use, including travel to a residence outside Washington, according to one of the officials. But a former DHS official said Long, as administrator, is entitled to have a contingency aide accompany him so he can have secure communications in case of a national emergency.

The former official added that Long “never asked for it and believed access to secure communications to be part of a presidential directive.” FEMA recently scaled back the use of the contingency team for cost-saving purposes, and Long now drives himself or flies to North Carolina.

Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, who served under President Barack Obama, said he could remember using government cars for commuting purposes only in seven instances during the eight years he held the job. In those emergency or extreme cases, Fugate said, it was deemed appropriate for a FEMA aide to brief him face-to-face as a driver took him from his home in Gainesville, Florida, to the Jacksonville airport for outbound flights to Washington, where his presence was required.

Long previously worked at an emergency management consulting firm and also served as director of Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency.

The Trump administration has come under intense criticism for its response to the damage Hurricane Maria did to Puerto Rico. Almost 3,000 people died in the natural disaster, many more than the earlier official tally of 64 people. Trump said this week that his government’s response to the disaster in Puerto Rico “was an incredible, unsung success.”

Email This Page

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+3 # wilhelmscream 2018-09-13 14:02
Those cars can’t be used for personal use; it’s illegal. Those school buses however, could have been used in 2005 to evacuate as many as they could due to Hurricane Katrina. some one said “no”; then after, they said they could of been utilized.
 
 
+5 # elizabethblock 2018-09-14 07:34
According to Democracy Now, Trump has cut funds to FEMA, and allocated those funds, instead, to ICE.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN